The whole point of having a strong financial foundation is so that you can enjoy your life and indulge without guilt on occasion. But when the holidays come to an end, it’s time to refocus on making progress on your money situation in 2020.
Here’s how to do your financial goal-setting.
Focus on what matters most
If you’re anything like me, you want to accomplish a lot with your money. But the most effective way to do that is to focus on no more than three financial goals. Any more than that and your efforts will be too scattered to actually make an impact. As a best practice, ensure the goals you choose help to grow your net worth. Net worth is calculated by subtracting all that you owe (liabilities), from what you own (assets).
The most common financial goals are:
- reduced debt
- having a better understanding of investments
- sticking to a budget
- saving a certain sum of money
- building a stronger relationship with your financial adviser
- paying down a mortgage
- savings up a rainy-day fund
- earning more money.
Certainly there are more advanced goals, such as buying real estate for investment purposes or starting a business, but in my opinion, those goals should be reserved for people that have at least a six-figure net worth, zero consumer debt and a rock-solid business plan.
Make your goals very specific
The most financially successful people in the world are extremely specific about their monetary goals. They clearly articulate a dollar value for each, along with a timeline and strategy. Doing this brings focus to their activities and forces them to cut out anything that deviates from their plans.
That’s why it’s time for you to get specific with your three goals. For example, reducing your home equity line of credit (HELOC) by $ 10,000 this year by paying $ 2,500 towards it from your bonus and making up the difference through regular monthly payments of $ 625 per month for 12 months. Another example would be to spend one hour each week learning about budgeting through free online courses, and starting to use a budgeting template every month. Or start applying for positions that pay 20 per cent higher than what you currently make, one application per month.
You get the point. Your goals need to be so clear that you can easily take action on them.
Measure your progress
Personal financial progress is made when month-by-month, year-by-year, your net worth increases. With the exception of retired individuals who are using up their nest egg to fund their retirement, if your net worth is shrinking, even by a small value, your financial goals aren’t working for you.
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In order to know if you’re actually getting ahead, you need to track your net worth. You can do this by downloading a free net worth tracking template, or you can make your own. Either strategy will work so long as you keep the template up-to-date each month.
If you find yourself off-track, step back and ask why. Were your goals unrealistic to begin with? Should they be revised? The point is to figure out where you went off course, and get back to your goals quickly.
The best plans have flexibility built right into them, so that you can still enjoy the unplanned things life has to offer. So, as you’re tipping back your eggnog this week and indulging in the festivities, take a moment to map out what you’d like to accomplish in 2020.